Ego and Control

Last Sunday, Rev. D said something that really stood out for me. In talking about ego, she said (and I’m paraphrasing)

“If your ego can’t take credit for your successes, it will take credit for your failures. You’re not big enough to ruin your life. You don’t have that kind of power.”

This goes back to step 1, “We admitted we were powerless over the effects of alcoholism or other family dysfunction, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

When I first confronted this step, I remember hating the idea of releasing (the illusion of) power. It was a catch-22 as I felt that if I stopped trying to have control over my life, then things would fall apart. But my life had already “fallen apart” as a result of my “failed” plans. Releasing into the unknown was petrifying.

So, I practiced allowing things to occur vs. taking the reigns and making things happen. I had plenty of opportunities over the past two years, and plenty of freak-outs along the way. I’m a little less petrified of it, but it’s still a work in progress. It feels exhausting and unstable to go this route, but there is a small part of me that is quietly whispering that things will be painful and difficult at times, and things will be unknown, but I will always move forward to the other end.

What’s interesting though is that, until last Sunday, I hadn’t realized that in those countless moments where I beat myself up over my past choices and where I am now, that I am still playing the control game. For the past two years I have been ruthlessly blaming myself for choosing the wrong college major, dating the wrong people, ending up in poor housing conditions, not speaking up at work, not taking opportunities sooner, etc. It’s a familiar whipping post to beat up on myself. I do it well and my ego knows it. So in times of uncertainly, this is where I go for comfort. I know I can do the self-blame dance like no other.

But Rev D. is right. Life is bigger than me and, even where there is death, there is life to be renewed. I am no more in control of my perceived failures than I am of my perceived successes.


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